1 Moral luck. In Great Mills, Maryland, a student with a handgun entered a high school and began shooting. He was brought down by a lone, armed and trained officer before anyone was killed. In the Parkland shooting, the equivalent officer chose to avoid a confrontation. There were other material differences: yesterday’s student shooter seems to have had a specific target in mind (his ex-girl friend) whereas the Parkland shooter was juts out to kill as many kids as possible. One student carried a hand-gun (which is very difficult for anyone to acquire legally in Maryland, which has among the toughest gun laws in the country), while the Florida shooter had a semi-automatic rifle. However, the primary difference was moral luck: if a competent and courageous officer had entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and shot Nikolas Cruz before he could inflict carnage, and Deputy Blaine Gaskill, instead of almost immediately entering the school and shooting 17-year-pld Austin Wyatt Rollins dead, had done a Scot Peterson impression and remained outside, the results in Parkland and Great Mills might have been reversed. In any case, the results would not have been changed by different gun laws or demonizing the NRA and lawful gun owners, only by different responses by human beings, and the vicissitudes of moral luck.
I think Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has serious cultural and management problems that played a larger role in the massacre than gun policies. Today’s news certainly suggest that…
2. This is how puppies end up dead in airplane luggage bins…The headline that caught my eye was “Pit bull goes on rampage in elementary school.” What actually happened was that a pit bull -mix puppy got out of the yard and ran onto a nearby elementary school playground where small children were playing, they started screaming and running because their parents had either taught them to be terrified of dogs or never instructed them how to interact with them, the puppy chased the kids into the school, and began jumping and nipping, as puppies tend to do. I was taught not to run from dogs at about the age of four. The consensus later was that the dog was not aggressive, but was just stimulated by all the commotion and playing. A teacher calmed the dog. You know, dogs are a feature of our neighborhoods and communities, and failing to teach children basic dog-interaction skills is as irresponsible as not teaching them how to cross the street. Anti-pit bull hysteria doesn’t help either. “Rampage.”
Then, this morning, I watched an episode of “My Cat From Hell” on the Animal Planet cable channel. In the first segment, one of a family’s two cats was behaving aggressively, biting and scratching in response to any human contact. The reason became apparent to the cat therapist quickly: the family’s two little girls were abusing both cats, treating the more passive of the pets like a stuffed animal as the parents laughed and took photos. The second segment was even worse. A couple had bought a Munchkin cat—which is an ethics issue itself, since these are deformed cats bred to have such short legs that they can’t climb or jump—
and apparently thought of the creature as a cute animated decoration. They had no toys or comforts for the cat, just a bare room and a litter box. “Have you ever played with your cat?” the therapist asked. “Play? Well, no, we’re both really busy,” came the response. And the couple wanted to know why was the cat was behaving so neurotically…
3. Dull baseball ethics. Major League baseball is trying to speed up games, which are about 30 minutes longer, or 33%, than they were a couple of decades ago. Of course, the biggest reason is obvious, but MLB won’t admit it: TV commercials have added more than a minute to every half inning. Never mind: last year the game allowed intentional walks to take place by simply waving the batter to first, and umpires were instructed to stop allowing batters to step out and contemplate the universe after every pitch. A pitch clock may be on the way next season; for this year, manager time outs to talk to the pitcher are being limited for the first time. None of these measures materially affect the game itself. However, MLB has directed the minor leagues to implement a truly horrible innovation as an experiment: in extra-inning games, teams will start each inning with a runner on second base. This is a text-book example of alienating the people who admire a product in order to attract those who don’t–the New Coke phenomenon.
Millennials have the attention span of mayflies, you see, so they have a problem with baseball: not enough action, not enough concussions, not enough zombies to shoot. So the fact that an extra-inning game can require the same amount of time to watch as it takes to drive to the Delaware beaches from Northern Virginia needs to be dealt with by spoiling one of baseball unique joys—to those who understand the sport and its virtues. Good thinking MLB! Destroy the integrity of your product to appeal to those who will never understand it anyway.
“Baseball is dull to dull minds”—Red Smith. But how did the dull minds end up in charge, Red?
4. More double standards. The big story, according to the number of headlines and links, is that President Trump, against the admonishments of his advisors, congratulated Putin for his automatic victory in the recent Russian elections, which, as we all know, are rigged. Trump phoned Putin yesterday to congratulate him for winning a fourth term and to discuss a possible summit meeting.
Quickly, Sen. John McCain, who is apparently only remaining in the Senate to exact his revenge against Trump for gratuitously minimizing his heroism as a prisoner of war, said the President “insulted” the people of Russia by congratulating Putin for winning an election whose result was never in question. “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said.
After his last electoral victory, Putin was duly congratulated by President Obama without any outcry from the mainstream news media, Democrats, pundits, or as far as my research has revealed, McCain.
I’m not certain what is the best diplomatic treatment of such things by adversarial world leaders. A legitimate argument can be made that a simple polite gesture in the midst of a tense international relationship is a cheap way to keep lines of communications open. We have another case of something being treated as unconscionable because Trump did it. So those who already detest him will nod vigorously, and those who support Trump, or who comprehend the concepts of objectivity and fairness, will lose more of whatever remains of their trust in the news media.
5. It’s Nazi THUGS, not Nazi PUGS, you idiot! Finally, this, showing what we have to look forward to if the anti-free speech attitudes being promoted on our college campuses take over the mainstream U.S. culture. We can tell where the cyber-giants are pushing us. The story involves a dog trained to raise his paw in a canine approximation of a Nazi salute. Before you can view the silly video on YouTube, you have to face this message, and click on a button consenting to continue.
The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences. In response to user reports, we have disabled some features, such as comments, sharing, and suggested videos, because this video contains content that may be inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.
Oh, YouTube? The audiences who are offended by a Heil Hitler! salute by a pug are known as morons. I hope you have blocked any videos related to “The Producers.”